Hard Drive Makes a Clicking Sound

Category: Hard-Drives

My hard drive is making a clicking sound. It started recently and seems to be getting more frequent. Sometimes I hear a repeated click-whir sound and then the computer locks up. Does this mean my hard drive is going bad?

Hard Drive Failure?

Generally a clicking sound coming from your hard drive is a Bad Omen. It could be a harbinger of horrific hardware happenings, so my immediate advice is "BACKUP YOUR HARD DRIVE!" as soon as possible. If the drive fails, you're out of luck. In fact, even if you don't suspect a problem with your hard drive, it's wise to make regular backups so you can survive a hard drive failure with only minimal inconvenience. See my article Backing Up Your Files to learn about backup strategies, hardware and software.

Scan Your Drive

On Windows XP, you can check your hard drive for errors by running the CHKDSK utility. Restart your computer and hold down the Ctrl key while it's booting up. When you see the option to start your system in Safe Mode, select it and continue. Click the Start button, then click Run, then type CHKDSK C: /F /R then press Enter. The /R option tells CHKDSK to scan for bad disk sectors, and the /F option means to fix any errors found. (On a Windows 98 system, use the SCANDISK command instead of CHKDSK.)
hard drive clicking

If CHKDSK offers to "convert lost chains to files", recover lost data, or fix something else, you should accept. (If CHKDSK tries to sell you a cheap Rolex, politely decline the offer.) After CHKDSK finishes, restart your computer normally and see if the dreaded click of doom returns. If so, the drive is most likely damaged, and should be replaced as soon as possible. If you decide to purchase a new computer, see Copying Old Hard Drive to New PC for help with transferring your files.

Are You On The Level?

But before you trash your troublesome drive, you should try one more thing... Some hard drives are very sensitive to non-level surfaces, and will not function properly if they're sitting on a slant. Shut down your computer, make sure your system unit is on a flat surface (use a level to make sure), and then restart. I was all set to give up on an older computer that was doing the click/whir routine, but I noticed it wasn't sitting on a level surface. As soon as I fixed that, the problem was gone!

That clicking sound MAY signal impending hard drive failure, but keep in mind you don't always get such a warning. So play it safe... back up your files on a regular basis.

Need more inspiration to back up your hard drive? Listen to music based on the sounds of hard drive failure!
Fiddling While Your Hard Drive Crashes will haunt your dreams until your data is safe.

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Most recent comments on "Hard Drive Makes a Clicking Sound"

(See all 61 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

22 May 2009

My computer since the first time I got it made 'clicking' sounds but they rather sound like bouncey clicks or something is scraping it.

It doesn't only do it on start up but everytime a program loads.

For me this is normal and this computer has ran for like 5 years+ .

Posted by:

04 Aug 2009

Hi all, i had the excatly same problem, it started after i inserted another harddisk.

after searching the internet, i founded out that it could be that my powersupply couldĀ“n handle it

After i removed that 2. harddisk, the clicking stopped!

So try that guys

Take care

Posted by:

15 Aug 2009

I had ticking sound a few days before and now if i try to turn on my pc , d hard disk cant be detected. when I turn on the switch hard disk starts n then immidiately ticking sound n then it stops working...i have a very important data into it...Cay I recover that data?? Can anyone plz tell me..thanks

Posted by:

22 Aug 2009

I'm having a problem like this as well. My hard drive makes a clicking sound and shuts off everytime I try to boot Windows normally But if I boot up in safe mode, no clicking, and no shut off. This is how I was able to find this site, and make this post.

Posted by:

12 Sep 2009

Dear readers,

On most XP computers, you might push F8 instead of holding the CTRL key to open up the boot options.


Posted by:

15 Sep 2009

My secondary hard drive makes a slight click sound when it fires up, and sometimes takes a second to kick in. It has been doing this for about a year now and once it kicks in it works great. When not being used it's like it powers off. I think it started after a reformat of the primary drive. My power supply is very new and 950W.

Posted by:

15 Oct 2009

Bob, here's a question for you. Several weeks ago my laptop's hard drive started making a lot of rapidly repeating clicking sounds, and the laptop ran very slowly. I backed up all my data straightaway and expected the worst.

After several days or so of it doing this, the noises stopped, and I've not had them since. Chkdsk has found no errors, and the laptop has behaved since.

This has me puzzled! Should I expect sudden failure? What could have happened? I'll appreciate any advice. Thank you!

EDITOR'S NOTE: In my experience, clicking sounds are always a bad sign. If the clicks came from the drive itself, and not the system speaker, then I would consider it suspect. At very least, keep a good backup! (See http://askbobrankin.com/which_online_backup_service_is_best.html )

Posted by:

17 Oct 2009

I have clicking noise from my hard drive every time i start up my computer and after i start up my pc in freezes on my bios screen can't even press on F things that would bring me in the bios menu or to the xpress recovery things. I have some lights on my mother board all four of them are working but they must not work if there are no errors. My pc is new. Got it together like 3 weeks and it worked perfectly!!! What should i do what is my problem is it all just because of hard drive? Oh, yeah and my power supply is new too it has 750W. The hard drive is Recertified Seagate 500GB 7200RPM 32MB Buffer Serial ATA II 3GBS Hard drive.

Posted by:

26 Jan 2010

I'd like to just say, Thank You. I don't know much about computers and last week mine starting clicking. I was sure I'd have to buy a new one. Then I found your site and did exactly what you said, about the check disk and it worked perfectly. Now my computer is making the normal revving sound of the processor and it seems to go much faster than before. Again thank you very much!

Posted by:

Sean Wade
03 Mar 2010

If your drive is clicking or grinding immediately power the drive down. Clicking can mean that you have a damaged head assembly. If your heads are damaged they can cause media damage. Media damage can render your data unrecoverable. Also, grinding is the sound of media damage.

If you have important data to recover and hear either of these sounds take the drive into a Professional Data Recovery Firm like www.24hourdata.com They will offer a Free Quote & a No Data, No Charge policy.

Posted by:

14 Jun 2010

I have a problem with my simpletech 500gb mini series portable hard drive. i'm a film student and dumped about 40 GB of footage of a compact flash card to the drive. i was watching a few clips just before i was going to back the data up. the program i was using to priview the .mov files was VLC player. The player froze as i was watching so i disconnected the portable hard drive. now no computer will show the icon of my p.hard drive under my computer. it makes a whinning whirry noise and then one click. about 1 click per second. a computer tech says the cheap way to back it up probably won't work (open the casing and try to pull the data directly off the motherboard or disc) He says best chance is sending it out to pay a few thousand dollars to have each piece individually taken apart. a few others said it sounds like the power supply is shot and i should take it apart and put the hard drive into a computer and pull the files off that way. no physical damage done, only internal. any advice? and what are the odds that my data is salvagable? i will fail film school w. out this.

Posted by:

21 Jun 2010

my compaq presario cq 41 laptop is making a "chis chis" low sound ...what could this be????

EDITOR'S NOTE: Hard to say, but probably a fan or hard drive.

Posted by:

29 Oct 2010

Oh wow, the "leveling" part worked for me!! One of the mounting screws had fallen out and the drive was at an angle in the case. so I tilted it back level, and the clicking stopped! tilted back down and it started clicking again, so I put the screw back in while it was level and it hasn't clicked since then!! Still, I'm not trusting this drive anymore.

Oddly I just had a drive die the other night. It was also at an angle. I wonder if I make it level if it'll boot up and I can get information off it???

Great tips, thanks!

Posted by:

31 Dec 2010

YOU . . . ARE . . . A . . . GOD!!

I was literally surfing (on a pc) for a hd for my laptop, when I stumbled across your website.

Having previously lost a pc hd to a clicking I just presumed was the fan, when my laptop started clicking, I totally panicked.

I have been waiting weeks, having to borrow time on another's pc. I found a replacement online site easily enough, but finding a reputable, affordable (I'm on a pretty tight budget) service center that would do a mirror image of a hd (that was already clicking), took a while. Once I found one though, had to wait until after the expense of Christmas to get the process started.

The problem? I had my laptop sitting on one of those stands that prevents heat build-up - and it kept the laptop at a bit of an angle.

Per your instructions, took the stand out from under it, and - VOILA! - I have a blissfully SILENT hd again!

You will never know how many people have benefited from this site; I know only a small % will bother to leave at least a 'Thank you'. May God BLESS you and grant you only the BEST in 2011!!

Posted by:

14 Jan 2011

MY pc's hard disc suffers from the same problem ... i have changed it already twice presuming it might be damaged but the problem with clicking and then blue screen continues HELP !!!

Posted by:

23 Feb 2011

I received a warning message on my computer this morning when I first turned it on. I wrote everything down and talked to a couple of friends that are into computers and they both said that it was a warning that my hard drive was going to crash soon. One of the is coming over this weekend to fix the problem and said I shouldn't turn on my computer until then; it is already on and working. If I just leave it on until then will that make it crash that much sooner?

Posted by:

16 Mar 2011

My 500GB external hard drive has started to make a random click sound while it is in use. I have listened to all the common hard drive failure sounds on the website and it does not sound like any of them. It still works fine (for now) but I am worried that it is going to crash. Do you have any ideas on what it could be or how to fix it.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Hard drive noises are almost ALWAYS bad. You can get a new 500GB external hard drive for $50. That's my suggestion for how to fix it. :-)

Posted by:

computer repair brisbane
29 Sep 2011

A bad fan will cause a heat issue; this is the reason of making a lot of noise. The problem may also be a hard drive. I have seen hard drives that when going out make noises. If it's a fan you will have to get a new one for the processer or get a new power supply with a fan built in. If it's the hard drive I would highly recommend cloning your data now and changing it out. Take the case off and try and listen where the noise is coming from, that will help a lot.
computer repair brisbane

Posted by:

Othman Ali
30 Apr 2012

I'm using Compaq Presario CQ41 laptop. Problem is, I cannot switch on my laptop without the battery on. My battery already about a year old, therefore it couldn't store sufficient power.Which meant, My laptop keep turning off after few minutes of usage and I need to wait few hours for the battery to charge up. Why can't i use the laptop without the battery on? Most laptop can be used eventhough you remove the battery, right?

Posted by:

11 Sep 2016

My portable external hard drive was clicking in one computer, but not another. I found out one computer couldn't deliver enough power to the front USB ports to power the hard drive, and a powered USB hub fixed the problem. Thank you for the help and suggestion (the power supply is the problem).

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